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6 Effective Tips for Building Emotional Intelligence in Toddlers

We all know that children have a host of feelings – big emotions. As they grow, they learn to regulate their emotions better. Emotional intelligence allows children to understand their feelings and act on them in an effective manner. This is key to maneuvering through the challenges that they may face throughout their lives. Emotional intelligence is a work-in-progress; while age does have an effect on it, we can definitely encourage its development right from the early years.

Personal qualities influence emotions and how each child exhibits emotional intelligence. However, experts suggest that healthy, happy, and balanced children often grow up in environments that reinforce qualities such as:  

  • Empathy 

  • Self-confidence 

  • Self-control 

  • Positivity 

  • Resilience 

Emotional intelligence is a strong predictor of success in various stages of life. Therefore, high value is assigned to developing emotional awareness in young children. Let’s explore a few ways in which parents and caregivers can provide impetus to this process:

1. Teaching toddlers to identify emotions

Children have a range of feelings, but they cannot always communicate how they feel. Some emotions are just too complex for them to articulate. This is where adult intervention is required. Let’s give names to their emotions. Start by asking them what they are feeling or how something has made them feel. Allow them to explain and connect with their emotions. You could then suggest the appropriate name for the feeling. For instance, “anger,” “embarrassment,” “jealousy,” etc. You can then ask them why they feel this way. Remember to validate their feelings. And you can do the same with positive emotions, so children understand that every emotion is valuable.

2. Showing examples of social-emotional learning  

Children learn emotional regulation by observing those around them. For instance, a parent’s reaction to situations and their management of emotions forms a framework for children to model. As adults, we must ensure that we display the behaviors we want to see in our young ones. Additionally, you can help them practice reading emotions in others. An easy way is to play something on television in mute and have your child watch the expressions of the characters. Help them guess what emotions are being displayed by understanding facial expressions and body language, which will help them build their emotional vocabulary.

3. Emphasizing on character education

Oftentimes, managing emotions in toddlers is easier said than done. It is important to stress responsibility and fairness while trying to cultivate emotional intelligence. The importance of honesty, accountability for one’s actions, upholding your values, etc., must be ingrained from an early age. This encourages self-awareness and empathy, which act as a great foundation to promote emotional maturity in toddlers.

4. Encouraging resilience is key

Resilient children are far less likely to have emotional meltdowns. They tend to bounce back quicker from negative experiences, they are mindful of their thoughts and opinions, they grasp chances to improve themselves, and also tend to do well academically. For instance, bullying is a terrible experience and a serious threat to society, but it is still prevalent. However, resilient children are less likely to be affected by bullying. They rely on their emotional fortitude to see them through tough situations.

5. Reading books that promote emotional intelligence

Reading to children is beneficial in more ways than one. Books can kindle emotions like no other medium. Children can get absorbed into the storyline and experience emotions as if they were their own. This is a great exercise in empathy but also a wonderful way to make them understand how poor intentions and the lack of emotional regulation can have negative consequences (you could use the example of the antagonist in the story). Here’s a wonderful book to enjoy with your child: The Boy with Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee.

6. Teaching children compassion

You may have noticed that children who are caring and compassionate about those around them are balanced and well-behaved. Those who have a high degree of concern for others usually display greater emotional intelligence. Such children find it easier to build friendships, participate in group activities, socialize with peers, and attain better psychological functioning early on.

As parents, caregivers, and educators we can play a significant role in carving the right path towards helping children develop emotional intelligence. At Dibber Internation Preschools and Nurseries, we want children to become the best versions of themselves with constant support and guidance. After all, nurturing makes all the difference in raising thoughtful and bright global citizens of tomorrow. 

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